With schools closed for the remainder of the school year due to the coronavirus pandemic, one Westview High School student is helping others in need.
16-year-old Neel Jain organized a project called PDX Concierge. The service is run by Jain and his father to provide a free grocery delivery service to the most at-risk groups for complications from COVID-19, namely the elderly and immunocompromised.
Jain was inspired to start the service after seeing doctors, first responders and companies step up and fight the virus.
"Young people like me who are healthy are just kind of sitting at home," Jain said. "We should be doing something more useful. … For people at risk, it doesn't make sense for them to go out and buy groceries and put themselves in danger. Young people like me should be utilized to help them."
Jain currently fills orders in the Bethany area. He hopes to expand his service to other parts of northern Washington County.
So far, with the help of his dad, he has filled 25 orders for those in need.
"Not only am I able to provide grocery delivery to Portland residents who are at-risk of COVID-19, but I am also able to build social connections with my community," Jain added. "In a time of self-isolation and social distancing, it is rewarding to build friendships and conversations with others that I deliver to."
Jain also takes precautions to not spread the coronavirus. He doesn't have symptoms, he said, but he knows it can be spread by people who are infected but don't feel sick. He said he washes his hands thoroughly, wipes down items, and wears gloves and a face mask.
As for his father, Rajiv Jain, he's excited to see his son spend time doing something positive for the community.
"I'm supportive (because) he has been very interested in doing volunteer work," said Rajiv Jain. "There's a lot of people in need right now, and it's a great way to help out."
Rajiv Jain said he agreed to accompany his son on trips because Neel still has his driver's permit. The permit allows someone without a license to drive alongside an experienced driver.
But the high school student is doing most of the volunteer work on his own, he added.
"It was very satisfying for me, because it took initiative," Rajiv Jain said. "He created the flyers. I helped him post the flyers, but he communicated with the individuals who are in need. He's followed through and did everything well."
Due to social distancing purposes, Rajiv Jain also limits contact with the people receiving groceries.
He hopes his son can inspire others — especially young people — to help the community during a time of need.
"He's inspired me a lot," Ravij Jain said. "I've also thought about how I can help him grow this (service) or maybe do something on my own in the future."
Neel Jain is also recruiting other people his age to help with the service once orders ramp up.
He said it can be rewarding to help people who have no other choice but to stay inside. Neel Jain recalls his first customer sending him a "thank you" email for his service.
During tough times, a nice note can go a long way.
"It makes me feel really good because I may want to help people out," he added. "So, just being able to do that is pretty rewarding to me."
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